Dry-fit, Cool-Tech, Hyper-Dry, Active-Wear, we all know about them, brought them and wondered why they feel exactly the same as the last shirt you bought that had a different description. Well, that’s probably because it was the same fabric as before, a polyester & nylon combination produced from poly-chemicals that BTW, also produces plastic. Off course, the way that they are produced now as opposed to 5 or 10 years ago is very different, but when it comes down to it, it’s still a plastic shirt that’s had more effort put into the development of it than a water treatment plant in an African 3rd world country.
So why do some shirts cost more than others, well the number 1 factor would be the brand and the efforts they make sponsor sports star to convince you that it is better than the last shirt she or he wore last year, and we all accept that, but what is the real technical reason why some shirts don’t stink after 10 minutes of a work out, or 5 holes of golf. Well that all comes down to how much antibacterial and UV protection has been combined with the shirt at the end of the day, in most cases, it can contribute to as much as a 20 to 30% increase in the cost of the fabric. Why? Because silver nitrate, the No1 antibacterial product used to stop you stinking, doesn’t come cheap, unfortunately.
So I hear you say, “but what difference does it make”, well, Lu Lu Lemon have built a multi million dollar business based around one very clever tag line, “non-stink Yoga”, which btw is probably the most honest statement out there for all the active wear fabrics we choose to wear these days. I myself have been on many a golf day and been handed a golf shirt sporting a major brand label, even though you can clearly tell from just the type of fabric it clearly isn’t and after 5 holes you know for sure as you and your playing partners choose to stand a safe distance downwind of each other, when those arms go up in the air. If you’ve been thrown a $5 shirt to wear, chances are it’s a “Niky” or “Punna”, not the real thing, yet there are those purchasing departments out there who still think they have a great deal, when all they are doing are contributing to the ever-rising rubbish heaps of discarded rags.
The thing is, if we all do what we are supposed to do when doing our chosen sports, it’s sweat. So for me, there are two things that really matter, the non-stink factor and the wick-ability of the fabric, that being how fast your shirts dry out after said activity, as there’s nothing worse than a shirt sticking to your body for another half an hour after you have finished your exercise. A certain label has come up with a clever solution to stopping fabrics sticking to female participants of sweaty sports, by adding an extra layer to the front, which works in terms of looking good and not producing that big smile on the front of the shirt, but can be a bit warm at times, I’m reliably informed.
In my humble opinion, the real difference between fabrics that cling to the body and those that fall and seem to dry quicker would be the weight of the fabric. It’s a fine line between choosing something that doesn’t make you look like you’ve just walked out of a sauna and one that makes you look cling wrapped by airport baggage services. During my tailoring days, it was interesting to find that the most popular plain white and blue shirts I produced, were made with probably the so called heaviest Twill fabric and that’s because the weight of shirt allowed the shirt to fall properly across the body, not clinging and therefore keeping its shape and still looking crisp and sharp at the end of the day, even in places where temperatures reach 35 to 40”C daily.
Think of it as leaning forward on a steep slope on a snowboard to go slower. It makes no sense at all to our brain, but trust me, it’s the only way of not embarrassing yourself in front of friends, which is pretty much the same as standing there with sweaty armpits for example.
So I hear you asking, “what’s your point”, well that would be that we shouldn’t get sucked in by all the marketing blur and make sure that the shirts and the labels are one of the same origins. As they say, when it looks too good to be true in terms of a great deal, it probably isn’t. Stop following the herd, think out the box and look at some of the more creative options out there, as after all, it’s just a fake plastic tree.
dapper dan morby – founder of www.balls.world